Sunday, August 30, 2009

30th August 2009 - Who's made a mark this week?

What's been making a mark on me this week is a book I'm currently reading - The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art by Don Thompson.

It's about the curious economics and psychology which underpin how the contemporary art market now works and the ways in which the auction houses it - notably Christies and Sotheby's.

Sotheby's, 34-35 New Bond Street, London
photo from wikipedia
Why would a very smart New York investment banker pay twelve million dollars for the decaying, stuffed carcass of a shark? By what alchemy does Jackson Pollock's drip painting No.5 1948 sell for $140 million? And why does a leather jacket with silver chain attached, tossed in a corner and titled 'No One Ever Leaves', bring $690,000 at a 2007 Sotheby's auction?
Book jacket of The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art
It provides an insight into the overall marketing strategies and and branding tactics used for contemporary art and explains how the contemporary art market transformed itself from being about art to being about investment portfolios.

It's so good I've started to feel the need to say something about it before I've even finished reading it - hence this blurb today!

There will be a review of the book posted on Making A Mark reviews...... in the very near future - I've just got a few more pages to go!

Also this week, of particular note, is the fact that one of the main 'players' in the book, advertiser and mega art collector Charles Saatchi has today provided an interview to The Observer newspaper - see 30 things about art and life, as explained by Charles Saatchi is. Saatchi very rarely gives interviews
In the past, he has explained his silence with, "I'm very shifty and very nervous - that's why I keep my gob shut," and he's renowned for never attending his exhibition openings. I was more than a bit astonished when I saw this article. Plus it's got some really great quotes - the one below starts the article. This article is very much the second of this week's recommended reads!
By and large, talent is in such short supply that mediocrity can be taken for brilliance rather more than genius can go undiscovered.
Don't whatever you do miss the bit towards the end where he provides caricatures of those constants of the art world - artists, curators, dealers, collectors and critics.


With very few exceptions, the big-name globe-trotting international mega-event curators are too prone to curate clutching their PC guidebook in one hand and their Bluffer's Notes on art theory in the other. They seem to deliver the same type of Groundhog Day show, for the approval of 250 or so like-minded devotees. These dead-eyed, soulless exhibitions dominate the art landscape with their sociopolitical pretensions.

The interview is of course also about marketing and is an article with a global advertising icon which is NOT unconnected with the fact that he has a book about to be published and a television series in the making - but c'est la vie!


Art Blogs

Drawing and sketching

Amalie's birthday - at the Boating Pond on Hampstead Heath
11.5" x 17", pencil and coloured pencils in Daler Rowney Sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
  • I've always had great admiration for cartoonists - bringing as they do an abuility to get a graphic image down on paper while using elements of irony and wit. Peter Preston of The Observer laments the demise of the political cartoonist The coils of the net are filled with dead cartoonists. In particular he laments the apparent disappearance of the idea that a picture tells a story instead of just accompanying a story

Illustration and Fantasy Art

For those who like their illustration art to be firmly located on the fantasy side take a look at

In addition to her own terrific blog, The Art Department (required reading for anyone interested in science fiction and fantasy illustration),...........
Charley Parker
"Spectrum" is on display at the Museum of American Illustration at the Society of Illustrators. Featuring the best contemporary "fantastic" art from renowned fantasy, science fiction, horror, and surreal artists from around the world. September 1 through October 17, 2009.

Painters and Painting

Congrats to Marie Fox (Marie Fox) whose work "Sounds of the Sea" was accepted to the 2009 California Open Exhibition in Santa Monica, California (65 selected out of over 400 works entered) - and then won first prize and $500! She then wrote to me to tell me about its story.........definitely worth a read
The magic for me is that "Sounds of the Sea" is only my 2nd figurative painting - and 2nd large painting. After all this time creating small still life oils (and years of folk art), I took a great leap to a new subject matter and size - to be rewarded by this level of recognition. I've always had a passion for drawing the human figure, but never dared paint it. I'm painting big too - which feels good because I'm tall....All this excitement on the eve of my 64th birthday! Happily, I'll be creating more big paintings of strong women at age 64, rather than worrying who will "still need me, who will still feed me", as the song goes.....
Marie Fox

Art Business and Marketing

Art and the Economy / Art Collectors

  • The Government Art Collection has spent £556,911 of taxpayers money on new artworks in the past year, including £14,000 on a piece of art made from old lightbulbs for an embassy. - see Government art cost taxpayers £500,000. Do you think the Shadow Culture Secretary has a point?

"It is deeply disturbing that during a recession the Government is spending so much of taxpayers' money on additional material for the Government's art collection....There are already thousands of pieces in the collection that aren't on public display so surely this is an area where the Government should cut back during tough times."

Jeremy Hunt, the shadow culture secretary

Art Competitions

Just a reminder that:

Art Exhibitions and art fairs

Art Education / workshops / Tips and techniques

Art History

Art Supplies

  • Read my Product review: Pentel Waterbrush which also references two very useful reviews of waterbrushes by Russ Stutler and Roz Stendhal
  • pencil talk has a review of the Faber-Castell Pitt Oil Base pencil
  • Richard McKinley has been writing about A New Surface for Pastels - a new paper called Pastelmat - on his Artists Network blog Pastel Pointers. This is always an excellent blog with lots of good advice and helpful reviews
  • I'm afraid the same can't be said for another Artists Network blog Anatomy of Art Materials and this has now been removed from the blogroll of Making A Mark Reviews. There were only ever sporadic posts at best - but 5 months is quite long enough! I just find it so surprising that an art magazine empire which gets such a lot of its advertising from people advertising art supplies should have so much trouble providing useful blog posts about art materials. Maybe it's time to have a rethink of the blogging model used for this blog? After all blogs don't have to be written by one person!
  • Which means I'm still looking for art blogs which are as useful in terms of reviewing art materials as one's like Roz Wound Up by Roz Stendhal. Roz always does a very thorough and very informative review - see for example her review on Friday of Commercial Sketchbooks: Exacompta 9920 Sketchbook and also Paper Choices: Strathmore Illustration Board for Wet Media
  • I'm 'auditioning' a few new blogs for the MAMreviews blogroll. However if you've seen another reviews oriented blog which is worth taking a look at please do leave a comment and provide a link.
Every so often you have to make an expensive purchase to support your art habit and that was certainly the case for me this week - as recorded in Printers come...and printers go..... It's had lots of comments and it sounds like a fair few other people need to change/upgarde their printers too. Isn't it amazing how long we continue to 'make do' with something that has stopped performing (or never could) at the level we really want and/or need?

Book Reviews

Opinion Poll

  • Just a quick note to say that you have less than 24 hours left to vote on What's the MAIN way you have sold art in the last 12 months? I'll be posting an analysis of the results tomorrow in terms of the poll and a comparison with the results from the same poll carried out a year ago.

Websites, webware and blogging

Clickthrough decay: Twitter time passes 10 times faster than email time.

the shorter it is, the more important it is to design text for usability.

and finally........

Has a President ever generated quite so much art before? Take a look at this website which is about The Art of Obama? There's 416 entries and counting.........

Making a Mark reviews......

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great post as always Katherine.
How goes the new printer?

We're off to Paint made flesh at the Phillips Collection in DC-I'm stoked!

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